The garden of earthy delights

I went to the Community Chest Carnival at Maynardville last night. Profound sayings like, “You can never step in the same river twice” don’t apply to the Carnival – very little has changed at all in the two decades that I’ve been attending it. It’s still dusty and rank with suspicious smells, but it has more funfair-style rides these days. Back in the ‘eighties about the only ride was the ghost train, but that’s gone now. It’s probably a good thing, too. Being pawed in the sweltering dark by sweaty-handed ‘ghosts’ is pretty scary, but for all the wrong reasons.

The second-hand book store was full of the usual ratty attic rejects. Many of the books are same ones that they’ve been putting out year after year in the hope that (against all precedent) this time someone will buy them. I was disappointed to discover that the “Monster Book For Girls”, was nothing more than a collection of cautionary tales about the importance of diligence and didn’t contain a single monster.

The Carnival has managed to retain its essential character of international food fair combined with an all-out boozefest. I saw the usual array of teenage boys, who were beginning to discover that beer for dinner is a bad idea, unless you’re training to be a bulimic. I also saw the usual array of disgusted teenage girls who were discovering that inner beauty is only beautiful when it stays inside.

On the food side, Belgian waffles were by far the most popular item on offer, if the length of the queue was anything to judge by. What made these waffles so special and what distinguishes a Belgian waffle from a common or garden waffle? I don’t know and I really wasn’t prepared to wait to find out. The less popular foods included Bulgarian stuffed brinjals, Polish potato pancakes and Irish oysters. The Indian curry stall wasn’t doing too well, either. It would appear that Capetonians are not all that adventurous from a culinary point of view. On the other hand, the combination of heat, flies and inadequate refrigeration is known to have a similar effect as beer for dinner, so perhaps it was more a case of prudence than anything else.

On my way out, I walked past one of the new additions to the Carnival: a mechanical arm-wrestling device. The idea is for you to pit your strength against a glorified torque-wrench and (presumably) win a prize. Judging from the bored look on the stall-holder’s face and the veins about to pop in the contestant’s temple, I decided to give this one a skip until next year.

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